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Semenya to appeal IAAF gender rule at top Swiss court

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Caster Semenya (Photo by Karim JAAFAR / AFP)

Double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya has lodged an appeal to Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court after losing her case against controversial IAAF rules forcing her to lower her testosterone levels.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport earlier this month rejected the South African’s challenge against measures imposed by the IAAF that compel “hyperandrogenic” athletes to lower their testosterone levels if they wish to compete as women.

“I am a woman and I am a world-class athlete. The IAAF will not drug me or stop me from being who I am,” Semenya, 28, said on Wednesday in a statement confirming her appeal to Switzerland’s top court.

New IAAF rules require women with higher than normal male hormone levels to artificially lower the amount of testosterone in their bodies if they are to compete in races over distances of 400m to the mile.

Semenya’s appeal will focus on “fundamental human rights” as she asks the court “to set aside the decision of the CAS in its entirety”.

“The CAS decision condones the IAAF’s requirements for unnecessary and unwanted hormonal drug interventions on female athletes despite the lack of any medical protocols and the uncertain health consequences of such interventions,” the statement added.

Dorothee Schramm, who will be leading Semenya’s appeal said: “The IAAF regulations violate the most fundamental principles of Swiss public policy. In the race for justice, human rights must win over sporting interests.”

Semenya will run in the 2,000 metres in a meeting held in the Paris suburbs on June 11, and has also entered the 3,000m at the Prefontaine Classic, which this year is being held in Stanford, California, on June 30.

Semenya won the 800m at the Doha Diamond League meeting on May 3 in her first race since losing her CAS appeal.

The CAS judges said although the rules are “discriminatory…such discrimination is a necessary, reasonable and proportionate means of achieving the IAAF’s aim of preserving the integrity of female athletics in the Restricted Events.”

Semenya has said she will not take medication but has also said she hopes to defend her 800m title at the world championships in Doha, which start on September 27.

The World Medical Association has urged doctors not to enforce the rules, warning attempts to do so would breach ethics codes.


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